Though the Denver Broncos managed to capture a Super Bowl despite limited production at quarterback, the position is still understandably recognized as the most important in all of sports. Teams with elite quarterbacks are often championship contenders, and that should remain the case in the 2016 season.
When it comes to who ranks among the league’s top quarterbacks, there is little argument that Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers belong at the top of the list. Cam Newton has also edged his way into the conversation after an MVP season, and the players recently voted him as the best player in the league. But there is plenty of dissension among fans and the media regarding how the rest of the quarterbacks might rank.
Below is a look at four quarterbacks that are somewhat overrated, and four others that might be considered underrated, entering the upcoming season.
The former No.1 pick might have the potential to be the league’s best quarterback someday, but his numbers have reflected that potential in just one of his four seasons. He’s posted a season passer rating of 87.0 or worse in three seasons, and 24 quarterbacks posted a rating of 88.0 or better in 2015. The Indianapolis Colts went 11-5 in each of Luck’s first three seasons, but that was mainly due to a weak AFC South. The expectations will be high for Luck in 2016.
There’s no doubt that Palmer was one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks in 2015, but the Arizona Cardinals’ signal caller could see a significant dip in production as he enters his 14th NFL season. With Peyton Manning and Brett Favre as prime examples, quarterbacks lose it quickly, and Palmer’s four interceptions in the NFC Championship Game could be a sign that the 36-year-old will soon enter a different phase of his career. NFL players voted him as the league’s 12th-best player, but he might not be anywhere near the top 10 by the end of the season.
The Atlanta Falcons reached the playoffs in three of Ryan’s first four seasons, but the team has barely had any success in the last three years. Ryan throws for a lot of yards, surpassing the 4,500-yard mark in four straight seasons, but those numbers are rather hollow. The 31-year-old makes far too many mistakes, and his “Matty Ice” nickname doesn’t seem to fit with only one playoff win in eight seasons.
The Cincinnati Bengals have never missed the playoffs with Dalton at the helm, but they consistently seem to come up short when it matters most. He’s 0-4 in the playoffs, throwing just one postseason touchdown and six interceptions for a 57.8 passer rating. Dalton put up big numbers before getting hurt last year, and it was the first season in which he had a passer rating better than 88.8.
Romo is often criticized for being injury-prone and playing poorly in big games, but neither idea has much basis in fact. The Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback missed most of 2015 with a broken collarbone, but he previously played at least 15 games in seven of nine seasons. The veteran was terrific in the playoffs two years ago, and he might have reached a second NFC Championship Game had it not been for the infamous Dez Bryant non-catch. He ranks third all-time in passer rating, and the Cowboys might have the NFC East’s best team if he’s healthy.
A future Hall of Famer, Roethlisberger doesn't always get enough credit for what he bring to Pittsburgh. He’s reached three Super Bowls in his career, winning two championships, and he’s recently put up some of the best numbers of his career. Constantly battling through injuries, Roethlisberger is one of the toughest quarterbacks in NFL history, and he’s proven to be the top signal caller of the star-studded 2004 draft that saw Eli Manning and Philip Rivers get selected ahead of him.
Few recognize Bortles in the upper echelon of NFL quarterbacks, but that could change in the 2016 season. He threw for 35 touchdowns in just his second season, and he’s ready to make a significant leap this year. The Jacksonville Jaguars have consistently been one of the NFL’s worst teams for nearly a decade, but that shouldn’t be the case any longer with Bortles under center for the foreseeable future.
Much like Bortles, Carr looks ready to take the next step in 2016. He’s proven that he should have been a first-round pick in 2014, throwing 32 touchdowns and 13 interceptions last year. Carr is the biggest reason why the Oakland Raiders have a chance to make the postseason for the first time in 14 years. He may not ever emerge as a superstar, but he's a steady presence.